The coronavirus pandemic presented new and unique working challenges.
With minimal time to prepare, employees in many sectors were suddenly forced to work remotely. The transition was a difficult task for businesses that did not have established processes, and were forced to put together a remote working policy on the fly. However, despite the challenges, there can be many benefits to employees working remotely, especially if businesses decide to adopt a remote working policy that will continue beyond the pandemic. Working remotely allows employees to feel trusted, valued, and most importantly, that their health and safety are your priority.
Here are some key insights into remote work to help ensure the success of your employees:
Set clear expectations
If there are particular company requirements which need to be followed, consider developing policies. A few areas in which you may want to set expectations include client privacy, network security, and daily reporting. Setting expectations is not micromanaging; the rules you set should be those that help create an environment of trust.
Share your progress
To help teams feel motivated, supported, and accountable, organizations are leveraging productivity tracking tools. A daily touchpoint and using software programs such as Slack or Basecamp are great ways to share what employees have accomplished and where they are spending their time. Sharing these daily progress reports allows teams to stay in constant communication and measure important deliverables.
People leaders need to adopt new approaches and be able to solve for new challenges. This is a stressful time for everyone, and leaders need to bring their communication “A” game to reassure and direct their teams. Communication needs to be sensitive, frequent and direct. Arm your leaders with tools and information, and be as transparent with them as you can. Poor or irregular communication undermines trust, and without trust, remote work won’t be successful.
Stay connected: Skype, WhatsApp, Slack, Google Hangouts, Facebook messenger – there are countless ways to stay connected using technology. One of the benefits of employees working in a traditional office environment is the opportunity to share a moment or information with colleagues. Providing a virtual water cooler is a necessity for remote teams to stay meaningfully connected. Encourage your teams to standardize how they talk to each other and make sure that the platforms work equally well inside and outside the office walls.
In a perfect world, everyone could set up a home office, but for some, this is not an option. As tempting as it may be to work from the couch or kitchen table, this can impact physical health due to poor ergonomics, and allows distractions. By encouraging dedicated home workspaces, employees can create the best conditions for themselves. Ensure employees have the proper technology and work tools to complete their tasks. Work with IT to allow people to take home important productivity boosters like monitors.
If a remote team can foster a culture of trust, it will thrive. Realistically, while working from home, children will need to be fed, dogs will need to be walked and laundry will need to be washed. Employees should be empowered to manage their time, responsibilities, and output. People should be trusted to accomplish what they committed to accomplish, even if it’s outside the regular 9 to 5 working hours.
From COVID-19 comes many lessons for businesses, one of them being the importance of staying agile, and being able to mould to the demands of a changing market. Implementing modern solutions can help you support your employees, and keep your business running.
Kim Hunter is a Director of Human Resources at People Corporation.